2018 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X Diesel Proves Its Towing, Off-Road Chops


After diving into what's makes the 2018 Nissan Titan XD special in part one of our Titan XD series, the second part will focus on how the diesel-powered crew-cab Pro-4X performed when towing and going off-road during a trip to Moab, Utah.

How It Tows

Hooking the 2018 Nissan Titan XD to our 5,000-pound travel trailer was a breeze because of its backup monitor with trailer guides. One thing we noticed right away was that the sideview mirrors didn't extend far enough to easily see down the sides of the trailer. They only needed to be an extra inch wider. The truck also had the trailer light check system, which was useful when checking the lights solo: Simply start the test with a tap on the multimedia screen and walk to the back of the trailer. The truck will honk indicating that it is beginning the light check. You can then visually check the lights as it goes through each turn signal and brakelight; the truck will honk again when the test is finished.

Having 600 pounds on the tongue of the trailer hitch smoothed out the ride a little bit, as is expected in most pickup trucks. Despite tow ratings (maximum of 12,030 pounds) that are not much higher than most half-ton trucks — and the 2018 Ford F-150 can be optioned for 13,200 pounds — the XD clearly outperforms them in stability and pulling power. It provided a more secure feeling while towing by controlling the load well and having both the torque and braking power needed for confident towing.

The additional low-end torque and exhaust control of the diesel engine also help with accelerating and stopping. Nissan doesn't state the XD has an exhaust brake, but the turbo definitely provides a good amount of back pressure with Tow/Haul engaged.

We never experienced any trailer sway or the trailer pushing the truck around during our towing tests. The fuel mileage was lower than expected with a 9.8 mpg average over 452 miles of straight towing. Most of that towing was on open highways with speeds around 70 mph. We've towed this same trailer with a 2018 Ram 2500 with the Cummins and averaged more than 12 mpg. Adding to our mileage frustration with the Titan XD was its minuscule 26-gallon fuel tank that provided about 250 miles of range. Looking under the truck, there is plenty of empty space ahead of the fuel tank that could have accommodated a larger tank, increasing capacity by another 5 or so gallons.

How It Handles Off-Road

The 2018 Nissan Titan Pro-4X comes with Bilstein shocks, 32-inch A/T General Grabber APT tires, a full set of strong skid plates and wheels that are unique from the rest of the XD lineup. Moab is known for its off-road trails, so we were excited to drive some of the famous red-rock trails we've been reading about for years. We started with Baby Lion's Back and then sampled the first portion of Fins and Things, two trails that have done quite a bit of damage to smaller, less capable pickups and SUVs. Stock full-size pickups are not commonly seen running these trails, but that didn't stop us. We aired the tires down to 30 pounds per square inch and headed for the hills.

Running the 30-degree slopes of Baby Lion's Back was a breeze in the Titan XD, even with an old trailer hitch sticking out of the receiver to prevent the bumper from dragging. However, there wasn't a single time where anything hit the slickrock. We also learned that the Titan XD's surround view camera does a good job of showing where the truck is but provides poor depth perception. If the driver got out and mapped a line, the cameras could be used to stick to that line. The cameras weren't much help in finding the best line as they didn't provide enough clarity. At 20.18 degrees, the approach angle on the Pro-4X is much lower than the approach angles of competitors' off-road-oriented trucks.

Although possibly an unfair comparison, the Ram 2500 Power Wagon has an approach angle of 33.6 degrees; the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, 31 degrees; and the Ford F-150 Raptor, 30 degrees. This quickly became apparent on Fins and Things. Luckily the first contact point on the front end was the tow hook, which can handle taking hard hits. Even with the poor approach and departure angles of the Titan XD Pro-4X, it handled this trail quite well. There were a few times when the front skid plate was a life saver, and the hitch in the rear dragged on three or four obstacles as well. Picking good lines and angling the approaches and departures off the obstacles kept us from getting stuck or damaging the vehicle.

We tested both the rear locking differential and the active-brake limited-slip system during our run. Interestingly, there were times when we preferred to use the ABLS over the rear locker, as ABLS allows for a tighter turning radius than the locker. There is a learning curve to the system, and it isn't quite as quick to respond as similar systems in Jeep and Toyota vehicles. However, once the ABLS responded, the truck climbed everything we encountered. The rear differential locker engaged and disengaged quickly and worked as advertised. When the locker is engaged, the ABLS system is disengaged, which is perfect for slippery terrain like mud and snow, but not the best for high-traction surfaces like slickrock. We should note there were times when we had three wheels clawing with the locker engaged but couldn't climb. Disengaging the locker allowed the ABLS system to engage and ensure that all four wheels were digging for traction. The extra traction provided by the fourth wheel, in some cases, was enough for the truck to make the climb.

While a truck this size has little business navigating these trails, the Titan XD Pro-4X showed us how confident it can be off-road. It should have no problem on most county and forest roads, launching a boat on slick or unpaved boat ramps, and remaining under control when unexpected storms hit while in the backcountry.

After returning to the pavement, we discovered another fun feature: When airing the tires back up, we didn't need to check the pressures. Once the tire reached 65 psi, the XD would automatically honk the horn to let us know we hit our target. This worked perfectly on all four tires.

Final Thoughts

While the printed payload and tow ratings for the 2018 Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X don't seem better than most half-ton trucks, in real life the pickup is noticeably more stable and composed when under load. What surprised us was the poor fuel economy with mpgs that weren't any better than larger three-quarter and one-ton pickups. It performed exceptionally well off-road but could use a small lift and larger tires to increase approach and departure angles. Our guess is that Nissan is leaving that to dealers to offer. At $61,210, our test truck was priced several thousand dollars below a comparatively equipped three-quarter-ton truck from one of the Big Three, but for those towing or hauling heavy loads or trailers, the larger trucks are likely a better option. As a niche truck that falls between traditional light- and heavy-duty classes, the Nissan Titan XD Pro-4X performs surprisingly well.

In summary, our likes and dislikes:


  • Engine power and torque
  • Composure when towing
  • Off-road capability


  • Mirrors don't extend quite far enough
  • Poor fuel mileage with small fuel tank
  • No selectable diesel exhaust brake photos by Matthew Barnes




Latest expert reviews